Some Cuba, Missouri businesses embrace public art signage as a means of advertising even though they do not have one of Viva Cuba’s official murals on their business. I must admit that when Dan Sanazaro, owner of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair and the Fanning 66 Outpost General Store, told me that local artist John Bland was painting a large billboard for the Rocker and Outpost that would be erected next to Ryle’s Car Wash in the middle of Cuba, I wondered how a billboard would look in the middle of the historic district. Later, artist John Bland told me that when he painted the billboard, he wanted it to be a mural- style billboard that preserved the atmosphere of the town and did honor to the rocker and the town’s murals. When he painted the Missouri Hickory Bar-B-Q’s sign on the other side, he had the same goal in mind. The signs are an asset and a continuation of the town’s public art. Tourists photograph the sign as they do the murals. Other Cuba businesses have also stayed true to the town’s reputation for murals, art, and history. Frisco’s Grill & Pub has two signs on the outside of its business painted by Shelly Smith Steiger, one of Cuba’s mural artists. The full-service restaurant, located just across the street from the railroad on Smith Street, features train memorabilia inside. Virginia Watson, the restaurant’s owner, carried that theme to its business sign. Since her husband John and his father were long-time railroad employees and Cuba’s business district was surveyed in 1857 along where the railroad would be built, it was fitting to feature the railroad on Frisco’s signs.
Glen Tutterrow crated an elk sculpture to embellish his business sign on Hwy. 19 when his talks with an outside designer fell through. Over a couple of months, Tutterrow sculpted the elk, which would have cost thousands if created by another artist. Tutterrow, a taxidermist by trade, has an artistic nature, that he uses for painting and sculpture. He and his son Curtis also built the 1873 train replica in the Viva Cuba Garden at the corner of Route 66 and Hwy. 19. The elk sculpture is another facet of art in Cuba’s public art system.
When Andy Sanazaro Jr. was restoring the Main Street Bakery and Back in the Day Cafe, one of the steps he took was to hire South St. Louis artist Julie Nixon Krovicka, who painted his interior and exterior murals, to hand paint signage on his windows and hanging signs. He wanted signs that were in keeping with his 100 year-old building.
One of the most recent combinations of signage and art is on My Place Tires at 1203 W. Washington (old Rt. 66). Missouri Mural artist Ray Harvey painted the mural and the sign, which will be placed below the mural. Owner Craig Stovall chose to put mural-inspired signage on his building because he felt it fit in with the rest of the town’s artwork. The mural has resulted in his business becoming another attraction for Route 66 tourists who stop to photograph the vintage scene with its bright red corvette.
These business have enriched the community with their contribution to the public art of Cuba. They have put their money and support into making Cuba an outstanding small town. Let us know of your favorite public art/signage in Cuba. For more public art in Cuba, visit Other Public Art on Viva Cuba’s website.
UPDATE: Midwest Petroleum’s Travel Plaza, at the I-44 Exit 208 Cuba overpass, added murals to its atrium in 2010. One mural has Dottie’s Restaurant painted above the restaurant entrance. Eventually this logo will be used on menus and other signage.